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Parshas Ki Thetze 5766 Commentary by Rabbi Ephraim Nisenbaum - Learn Torah [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
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Parshas Ki Thetze 5766 Commentary by Rabbi Ephraim Nisenbaum [Sep. 1st, 2006|02:30 pm]
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Although the primary reason of observing the Torah’s commandments is to fulfill the will of G-d, nevertheless, we also benefit from their observance. One of the mitzvos discussed in this portion is shiluach ha-ken, sending away the mother bird. This involves someone who chances upon a wild mother bird sitting upon a nest of eggs or fledglings, and the person wants the young for himself. The Torah obligates him to first send away the mother bird and only then take the offspring. Although this mitzvah involves only a minimal effort, great rewards are promised for its fulfillment.

It may seem cruel to forcibly separate a mother from her young. Yet, the commentaries explain, the love of a mother to her young is instinctive, and it would pain her even more to see her offspring taken away. By sending away the mother bird before taking the young, it instills a feeling of compassion into man for all creatures.

This is also seen in another mitzvah discussed: the prohibition against muzzling an animal while it is working. This too shows compassion for an animal that becomes hungry while working in the fields. Even if the owner intends to feed the animal afterwards, there is still an element of cruelty in denying it food while it is working. The person who does not show this compassion to an animal will not show it to another human being either.

On the other hand, though, it is sometimes necessary to refrain from feeling compassion. There is a mitzvah to totally wipe out the memory of the Amalekite nation– every man, woman and child. Amalek is viewed as the archenemy of the Jewish people, because they were intent on destroying the image of G-d from them. Their war against the Jews was more than just a personal hatred. It was an ideological battle against the recognition of G-d’s involvement in the physical world. G-d’s name remains flawed, as it were, as long as the nation of Amalek exists.

Here, there is no room for compassion. One who realizes the importance of propagating G-d’s ideals throughout the world, understands the necessity of sometimes having to wage the wars of G-d. The Talmud says in relation to the war against Amalek, that one who shows misplaced compassion to those undeserving of it, will eventually show cruelty to those who truly deserve compassion.

“…they discipline him, but he does not listen to them...” (Deut. 21:19)

The commentators point out that sometimes the discipline itself causes the child not to listen. Rav Ya’akov Kaminetzky was asked if it is proper to employ corporal punishment as a means of disciplining one’s children.

Rav Ya’akov related an incident with Rav Baruch Ber Lebovits, whose child misbehaved. Rav Baruch Ber waited a while to make sure he was in control of his emotions. He called the child to him and said warmly, “ You know that I love you very much and I wish you a long and good life. However, because you misbehaved, you deserve a potch (spanking).”

Rav Ya’akov concluded, “Only someone who could punish like that is allowed to use corporal punishment.”

Did You Know...

It is forbidden to keep something dangerous in one’s home. The authorities rule that this includes keeping a dog that bites, or even if it barks incessantly at any passerby. If it is for security purposes, however, it is permissible. Similarly, if the dog is chained, one may keep it. Some authorities also permit posting a sign to beware of the dog.

A squared table with sharp corners is also considered dangerous and should not be kept anywhere people could get hurt. Keeping a rickety ladder in one’s home is also included in this prohibition. Similarly, a pit in one’s yard must be covered to prevent anyone from falling into it.